Although plastics provide a variety of beneficial uses, the explosive rate of their global proliferation and wide spread misuse are having a profoundly negative effect on our personal health and the environment. Plastics are manufactured mostly from highly toxic chemicals, such as BPA, PCB, and other weapons of health and environmental destruction. It is a well documented fact, that these chemicals, which are plastic constituents in food wrappings, bottles, canned food lining, bags, plastic dishes and cutlery, household items, furnishings, toys, and personal care products, are hormone disruptors. Altering hormonal balance, they contribute to numerous diseases, including breast and prostate cancer, neurological and liver problems, allergies, mental disorders, reproductive abnormalities – the list goes on.
Plastic food storage containers, bottles, and wraps, leach their toxic chemicals into the food and beverage allowing these chemicals to enter our bodies. Industries around the world produce approximately 280 million tons of plastic items per year – known to take hundreds of years to decompose. A large portion of those products end up as trash in the world’s bodies of water, in the wilderness, and landfills around towns and cities. Indeed, our planet as a whole is suffocating in plastics!
How can we reduce the harm done to our personal health and the well being of the planet?
- Awareness is the first step.
- Use glass, stainless steel, or earth ware food and beverage receptacles, dishes, and cutlery whenever possible – at home and elsewhere.
- When grocery shopping (with your own canvas reusable bags), opt for products in glass bottles over plastic ones: oils, vinegars, and juices, for example.
- Cooking wholesome meals at home more often, using whole food ingredients is infinitely more healthful than consuming pre-cooked frozen “convenience food” devoid of meaningful nutrition and packaged in plastic wrappings.
- Avoid MacFast food dining for the same reasons.
- There is no such thing as “microwave safe” plastic.
Food for thought and a couple of recipes for you to try:
Most commercial salad dressings come in plastic bottles and contain numerous unhealthy fats and additives, such as thickeners, preservatives, high amounts of sodium, food colors, sugar, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, and other chemicals we can’t pronounce… The label on the products’ backside reads like a list of who’s who on a chemistry lab shelf.
A salad dressing is often and unjustly treated as an afterthought. Making a nutritious one is actually an utterly simple affair, made in one minute from a few basic ingredients right in the salad bowl before adding the vegetables and other ingredients. A larger quantity can be made in advance and refrigerated in a covered glass jar for up to a week. Such a dressing greatly boosts the salad’s nutritional value as well as its flavor. (Bring your refrigerated dressing to room temperature before using).
The simplest and most basic dressing is made from extra-virgin olive oil, apple cider (or wine vinegar, or lemon juice), salt, and pepper. Salad dressings can be flavored with dry or fresh herbs, such as dill, basil, oregano, parsley, mint etc. Fresh fruit juices and spices are used in some dressing recipes as well.
Many dressings, including the ones presented below, are used also for chilled main-meal whole grain pasta salads, and other whole or multi grain dishes. A salad dressing made from scratch coupled with fresh produce, or whole grains, results in a healthy culinary marriage.
Please note: The recipes below can be doubled, triples, etc. according to your need.
1/2 cucumber, peeled
4 large Romaine lettuce leaves, shredded
1-1/2 cups coarsely torn spinach
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 green onion, thinly sliced, including its white part
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded, cut into ½ inch strips
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped mint leaves
3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
4 black Kalamata jarred (not canned) olives
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoons dried oregano
Pepper to taste
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients.
- Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Place the two quarters flat-side-down side-by side on a cutting board and slice them at the same time.
- Add the cucumber to the dressing.
- Toss in the remaining vegetables (through mint). Divide the salad among 2 serving plates and top with the feta and olives.
CUCUMBER SALAD WITH YOGURT DRESSING
1 large cucumber, peeled
1 green onion, thinly sliced, including the white part
2/3 cup non-fat, plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 tablespoon dried dill weed
Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large bowl mix all the dressing ingredients. Add the onion.
- Cut the cucumber in half crosswise. Cut each half in half lengthwise. Placing two quarters side-by-side, flat-side down, thinly slice the cucumber quarters and add to the salad. Mix well.
“Mission Nutrition” Tips and Recipe from Judy E. Buss, Health Columnist, Nutritional Cooking Instructor.
Excerpted from Judy E. Buss’ article, first published in the “Feeling Fit” Magazine, Sun Coast Media Group newspapers, Florida.
Stay tuned for more Judy E. Buss’ “Mission Nutrition” words of wisdom and recipes.